Mayor Says 5G, Small Cells Are “Modern Equivalent to The Space Race”


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With 5G on the horizon, and Orlando poised to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, the city’s planning department has projected carriers will need about 20,000 nodes to bring approximately 60 percent coverage to the area, reported the Orlando Sentinel. At a City Council workshop this month, officials said they and the city-owned Orlando Utilities Commission were studying how to encourage carriers to use existing infrastructure for wireless equipment, especially in the dense downtown, touristy International Drive, and on Orange Avenue.

“What we have beginning to happen is a lot of nodes occurring on Orange Avenue. If you were to line them all up, you’d be looking at a node every 90 feet,” Chief Planner Doug Metzger said. 

“In my perfect world, I’d love to get two nodes on every pole.”

To cut down on clutter, carriers would need to either agree to share new poles installed throughout the city or reach an agreement with OUC to install equipment on the utility’s tower. Metzger said he hopes to have a plan in place by early October to align with this objective. 

Additionally, Orlando is expected to consider at least three new 5G cell towers by year’s end to build a more dense network, Metzger said. To speed up roll-out, Orlando has allowed carriers to create a master file of all poles and equipment they anticipate using in the city, according to the Sentinel. Once that master file is approved, staff reviews on individual small cell permits could be halved, Metzger added.

Crews are already laying the fiber-optic groundwork to usher in 5G and have the support of Mayor Buddy Dyer. He said of 5G in a speech earlier this year: it’s the “modern equivalent to the space race.”

According to Wireless Infrastructure Association President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein, cities that work with carriers will be the first to benefit from the automation and economic opportunity that 5G will facilitate. “The cities that make it easy to deploy wireless infrastructure will be the first to get 5G. I expect Orlando to be in the company of those who get 5G first.”

August 26, 2019   

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